If you’ve never been bullied yourself, it’s likely you’ve seen someone bullied.
Bullies are those individuals that choose to wield their power in a way that affects others negatively, originating from a lack of respect for personal rights, freedoms and feelings.
I recently attended the St. James-Assiniboia School Division’s Safe Schools Forum at John Taylor Collegiate, which gave schools and community groups the opportunity to showcase their anti-bullying initiatives.
It was inspiring to see so many organizations invested in the well-being of our students and the community as a whole. I was impressed with the students’ understanding that school should be a safe place for all, and that being treated with disrespect, whether physical or emotional, is not acceptable in any setting.
The forum underlined the fact that parents, grandparents and guardians should be watching for sudden behavioural changes or social withdrawal in their children. This can be difficult to catch, as the teenage and pre-teen years are all about change.
• It’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Listen to your child and take their concerns seriously.
• Ask about school and friends regularly. You know your child best. If something feels out of place, it probably is.
• Encourage them to give details, which can assist the child, family and school in dealing with the situation. As much as we want to advise our children, we need to remember that schools also have a plan to follow, and parental goals and school goals must be compatible to achieve positive results.
Now, on to social media and the issue of cyberbullying.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and countless other sharing sites were intended to make communication easier but they have become the norm so quickly that we haven’t had time to prepare our children or ourselves to navigate them safely.
Please investigate the security information on each site your child uses with your child, in order to ensure a safe level of privacy. As I’m writing this column, the commercial with the young boy who hears his bully’s taunts while eating breakfast has just come on As he tells his mother about the trouble at school, the bully. Be there to listen when your child needs to talk.
Wanda Prychitko is a community correspondent for St. James-Assiniboia. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org